David Judge, PhD student in the Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol, talks about his PhD.
I completed an MSci in Chemistry at the University of Bristol, before doing the Masters in Science Communication at UWE Bristol whilst working as an explainer at At-Bristol (now We The Curious) Science Centre.
After graduating I continued working in At-Bristol, doing visitor research and developing live science shows and events. During this time, I also helped found Rising Ape (rising-ape.com), a collective of Bristol-based freelance science communicators. With Rising Ape, I have worked on innovative projects such as the science board game event Your Choice in collaboration with CRUK, and the immersive theatre event The Audience, which explores the future role of artificial intelligence in the legal system.
I have now returned to the Science Communication Unit to complete a PhD in collaboration with the Eden Project, working on their upcoming exhibition Invisible Worlds.
Research, practice and projects
My research focuses on learning in science centres, museums and other informal science learning institutions. My PhD will use an action research approach to follow the development of the Eden Project’s latest exhibition, Invisible Worlds, from the beginning of the development process to after its launch in Spring 2018.
Invisible Worlds will shed light on the Earth systems and processes which sustain life on our planet – the things which are too fast, too slow, too large or too small to comprehend. The inherent complexity of these systems poses a significant challenge to visitors’ understanding. But modern exhibitions don’t just aim to increase visitor understanding – more often they have more ambitious aims of changing visitors’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours through an immersive, transformational experience. My research aims to understand this process from a sociocultural perspective by drawing on theories of transformational learning and identity, whilst using an action research approach to bridge research and practice.